/ other

Jet lag and chemotherapy

My brain is a slumbering rock on the quiet bottom of the ocean, black, blue, silent, timeless, peace. Things are going according to plan.

But suddenly my brain begins to glow, gathering quick steam, bubbling, trembling under pressure. It shoots towards the ocean’s surface, beams a straight line from the sleepy ocean floor, tearing out of the cold depths with jetlike focus and determination. It rips through layers of lurking fish, splashes up into the glaring sunshine of consciousness, bobbing awkwardly.

Choking on waves and blinded by saltwater, I gasp for air and splash about trying to get a grip on wherethehellami; flailing an arm just to my left, it bangs into a wall; ouch, wheredidthatwallcomefrom; startled and overcorrecting to the right, I half roll onto a small brown chihuahua burrowed face-first under my leg; wherethehelldidthischihuahuacomefrom. “Rggle-grr”, mutters the dog; he is displeased with my ineptitude.

I gasp a final time. The surrounding ocean burns away in a flash like gift wrap in a fireplace. I am left in the dark.

Where am I? It takes a moment of eye darting and clue searching to remember. Oh right; today I’m in California. I fumble clumsily in the darkness for some kind of device that tells the time.


The night is quiet at 2:00am. Just the low hum of machines: idle computers, a refrigerator, an air conditioner exhaling softly. The occasional car coasts down the highway outside.

It’s the middle of the night but my body thinks it’s early afternoon. I’ve been through this drill enough by now to know there’s no point in trying to go back to sleep.

Wide awake at this point, I sit up in the dark and flip open my laptop. I become an illuminated blue face floating in a black room. I’m lightly tapping on a glowing keyboard, code flickering into a browser terminal. If I can’t sleep, I want to code. Watching a movie would feel like killing time in a stuffy airplane. I did that yesterday.

Somehow this feels ok. A lonely moment in a sleepy world.

The chihuahua buries his face in my lap, immediately falling back to sleep. Showoff.


After about 30 minutes of typing, I hear the slow shuffle of footsteps coming from the next room. A silhouette appears in the dark and sits down next to me. The silhouette is quickly transformed into another illuminated floating blue face.

And there we are, two levitating heads in the inky dark, four hands clacking on keys, mute, wordless.

The only other sound is a new one to me: the whirrrrs of a portable machine that, at precisely every 120 seconds, delivers a tiny dose of a chemical cocktail intravenously.


Whirrrr.


Whirrrr.


Whirrrr.


“Intravenously” means a cable plugged through the skin and into a blood vein. One of us is for a few days part man, part machine.


Whirrrr.


Whirrrr.


Whirrrr.


The chemical cocktail is a drug-laden beverage intended for consumption by invader cells, who will be lured into an alleyway and beaten senselessly, bopped on the head.


Whirrrr. Bop!


Whirrrr. Bop!


Whirrrr. Bop!


Although highly necessary, these internal invader cell beatings aren’t conducive to uninterrupted sleep.


Whirrrr. Bop!


Whirrrr. Bop!


Whirrrr. Bop!


It’s nice to have someone to share the pre-dawn silence with, silence punctuated by the sounds of machines and neutralized cancer cells.


Whirrrr. Bop!


Whirrrr. Bop!


Whirrrr. Bop!


But I’m not proud to think that my restlessness, this disturbance in my sleep ocean is only temporary.


Whirrrr. Bop!


Whirrrr. Bop!


Whirrrr. Bop!


In a few days, I’ll be a sleeping showoff, just like the chihuahua resting warmly in my lap.


Whirrrr. Bop!


Whirrrr. Bop!


Whirrrr. Bop!